Support Native Language Center to Help Fight COVID-19

Ethnic flag of the the Diné (Navajo) Nation where COVID-19 has spread rapidly
Ethnic flag of the the Diné (Navajo) Nation where COVID-19 has spread rapidly

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) is calling for the inclusion of a provision in the next coronavirus relief bill to establish a Native American Language Resource Center (NALRC) to support Native American language education schools and programs hit hard by COVID-19.

The proposed center would promote best practices in Native American language education; provide outreach to students and families; acquisition of distance learning technologies and training for parents, students, teachers and learning support staff; compile digital libraries and curate other online resources in target Native American languages; develop distance learning curricula appropriate for preschool to PhD levels, pedagogical training for teachers, and other efforts necessary to continue Native American language acquisition among American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian communities.

The Joint National Committee for Languages and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (JNCL-NCLIS) is rallying for support for the provision and believes that the establishment of a NALRC will help to advance the purposes of the Native American Languages Act, and move forward key recommendations of the America’s Languages report.

Last week, the Diné (Navajo) Nation surpassed New York as most affected U.S. region per capita with 4,071 positive COVID-19 tests and 142 fatalities recorded.

To help promote Native American language goals, supporters can endorse the proposal here.

Senate Passes Resolution Honoring Native Women

Earlier this month, the Senate passed a resolution to celebrate and honor the successes of Indigenous women in civil rights, business, law, medicine, science, and language revitalization. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the bill recognizes the heritage, culture, and contributions of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women in the U.S., and highlights the importance of promoting equity, providing safety, and upholding the interests of strong, diverse women. 

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian women are stepping up to serve their communities in a variety of ways, from providing frontline services like healthcare and public safety to representing their communities in the highest levels of government service and Tribal leadership. Their dedication during this crisis is just the latest example of the truly remarkable contributions of Native women throughout our Nation’s history,” said Udall. “I am proud to work with Senator Murkowski on this resolution to honor the work and accomplishments of so many groundbreaking Native women–including Native New Mexican women like Santa Clara Pueblo’s Floy Agnes Lee and Ohkay Owingeh’s Esther Martinez. As vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I will continue to fight for legislation and policies that honors the legacy of their work and ensures future generations of Native women have the tools, rights, and opportunities they need to thrive.”

“We have been working hard to shine a light on the disproportionate amounts of violence experienced by Indigenous women across the U.S. But as we continue our work to make right those inequities, it is equally important that we recognize the great accomplishments, heritage, culture, and contributions of Alaska Native, American Indian, and Native Hawaiian women,” said Murkowski. “Earlier this year, we unveiled a new $1 coin featuring Elizabeth Peratrovich, who is deeply admired for her legacy as an Alaska Native civil rights leader. Women like Elizabeth Peratrovich and how they paved the way for future generations should be remembered and celebrated.”

The full text of the resolution can be found here.

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